'If we say 10am, then we meet at 10am'

Carlos M. Roos relocated to Leiden from Caracas in 2008 to pursue a master’s degree. Nine years later, the Venezuelan native teaches at a local university, when he’s not working on his doctorate and a series of innovative musical projects. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came over looking for a very specific master’s programme, which was Philosophy of Art. At the time, that wasn’t the most popular subject out there. I found something along those lines in Bologna, Italy but it wasn’t offered in English. There was also one in Norway but it was a PhD programme. Finally, I came across the website for Leiden University and found one for masters students that had the content I wanted to study and research. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? Right now? An expat, I suppose. For a while, I was more of an international. I spent two years in Leiden and then I moved to Brussels in 2010 where I started a research project. It gave...  More >

At a loss for (Dutch) words?

Psychology students at Radboud University are protesting at suddenly being forced to study in English, even though they signed up for a Dutch course. Here Karen Maex, the rector of the University of Amsterdam, presents the case for a bilingual university in the face of a growing number of English-language courses. An increasingly English language-orientated university education is putting the population at a serious risk of ‘de-wording’, Annette de Groot said recently when she stepped down as professor of experimental language psychology at the University of Amsterdam. De-wording is an interesting term. By thinking and writing exclusively in English we will lose part of our Dutch vocabulary and with it the ability to think in that language. Language replacement, De Groot calls it, and it is happening partly as a result of the increasingly international character of higher education. There is no doubt thatuniversity education is seeing an increase in English. Some 20% of...  More >

Podcast: The Too Many Ministers Edition

In a change to our regular podcast format, this week we interview author Ben Coates about why the Dutch are different, how he became an accidental migrant and how, as a former British political hack, he struggled to make sense of a political system that relies on parties agreeing with each other. We also bring you the names to look out for as the new Dutch government takes shape, the latest news on the murder of student Anne Faber and the remarkable story of the tigers that fled the war in Syria. Top story New Dutch cabinet takes shape News Investigation into death of Anne Faber continues Director of Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum resigns Dutch students triumph in solar car challenge Syrian tigers head for Friesland Read the National Geographic article on the refugee tigers here Interview Ben Coates's book, Why The Dutch Are Different, is on sale here    More >

Should expats go Dutch with schools?

With international schools in short supply and long waiting lists becoming the norm, more expatriate parents are considering a Dutch education for their children. Deborah Nicholls-Lee examines its pros and cons. ‘Within both of the kids’ classes, we’ve got Mexican families, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Canadian, - we have a really big mix there,’ says British expatriate Claire Mingay, who has lived in Amsterdam for 12 years. But the multi-cultural school that her children attend is not international: it is a Dutch primary school full of expatriates who, like her and her British husband Mark, have made the decision to enrol their children in the Dutch system. ‘We feel we have the best of both worlds in a Dutch school in the city centre, where there’s a large number of international families,’ she says. ‘We have the international context, the teachers are happy to speak to us in English and understand that we don’t speak good Dutch, and that’s made it quite...  More >

Get to grips with living in Holland

Need help with finding the perfect place to live, a good place to work out or even mates to hang around with? You'll find all the answers at the second edition of the IamExpat Fair in The Hague, which takes place on Saturday November 4, 2017, at the Grote Kerk in the city centre. The IamExpat Fair was set up support internationals in the Netherlands and connect them with local businesses and service providers and the organisers are delighted to be back in The Hague for a second edition. 'The IamExpat Fair is designed for both new arrivals and established expats who want to discover something new or find answers to questions that have been bugging them for some time!,' says co-organiser Nikos Nakos. 'For example, finding time to make an appointment with a mortgage or financial advisor, can seem daunting, but here we've got them all under one roof,' says his colleague Panos Sarlanis. Indeed, the event is a great opportunity to find everything you need in one location, on one day....  More >

Multilingual recruitment comes of age

Twenty years ago Maureen Adam launched her own recruitment company from her home in Edam. Since then the company has blossomed, but the recruitment industry has changed enormously as well, as Robin Pascoe found out. ‘I came to Holland in 1991 and I really struggled to find a job. The Netherlands was in the middle of a recession and it was at a time when you went to an agency and there were notices on the door stating “if you can’t speak Dutch, don’t come in”,’ says Maureen Adam, sitting on a bench in the sun in Westerpark, close to the company’s Amsterdam offices. ‘Then I found a job working in customer services and everyone working there was an international. So I thought “hang on a minute, there is work for people who don’t speak Dutch”.’ It was not, however, until a few months and another job later, that Maureen decided to take the plunge. Adams Multilingual Recruitment was born. “I’d worked in recruitment in London and Hong Kong and I thought...  More >

Mata Hari returns to Friesland

Who could blame the Dutch for focusing on the glamour and intrigue that surrounds their most unlikely heroine? It is not often, after all, that one of their own becomes an international by-word for sex and scandal. But now Mata Hari is back in the spotlights. The Friesland Museum has mounted an exhibition which highlights not only Mata Hari the dancer, mistress, and – alleged – spy but Margaretha Zelle the wife and mother. It is a 100 years since Margaretha Zelle, alias Mata Hari, was executed by the French for being a German spy. There was never any conclusive proof she was seducing high ranking officers into divulging military secrets but the Dutch beauty moved in military circles as the Great War was in progress and during that uncertain time rumours flew. According to Friesland Museum curator Hans Groeneweg the French arrested Mata Hari on a trumped-up charge. ‘Things were dire at the front in 1917, with one mutiny after another. Generals came and went in quick succession,...  More >

Stedelijk show explores native foreigners

The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam continues its exploration of the theme of migration with a new exhibition, I am a Native Foreigner. Deborah Nicholls-Lee  went along to check it out. ‘We’re all foreigners,’ says Beatrix Ruf, director of the Stedelijk Museum. ‘It’s an experience we all share, in a way. Even if you travel for a holiday, you experience displacement in relation to other contexts.’ The Stedelijk’s latest exhibition I am a Native Foreigner offers a 13-gallery exploration of the theme of migration and showcases photographs, textiles, paintings, installations, recordings and films from multi-national artists. The oxymoronic title is taken from a quote by Mexican conceptual artist Ulises Carrión (1941-1989), whose work features in the exhibition. A migrant himself, he moved to the Netherlands in his thirties and experienced first hand this duality. Not at home ‘As an artist, you do not always feel at home,’ explains Leontine Coelewij, the...  More >

52 signs you might be going Dutch

So there you are, sitting chomping on your French fries with mayonnaise and cheering on Oranje on the telly, or lingering in the bathroom to check which birthdays are coming up, and it suddenly hits you: you're turning Dutch. At what point does integration become assimilation? Here's a list of some tell-tale signs; feel free to add your own in the comments. You complain about the number of tourists in Amsterdam You complain about the way tourists ride their bikes You've learned to cycle while carrying an umbrella You've learned to cycle in the snow You no longer wait at red lights on your bike, or wear a helmet You drop Dutch words like lekker, borrel and gemeente into English conversation You start calling your diary an agenda and keeping it meticulously Bar staff and shop assistants have stopped replying to you in English You correct visitors on the pronunciation of Utrecht, Breda and Maastricht You complain about expats not learning Dutch You...  More >

Podcast: Whistleblowing Chicken Edition

There's an early Christmas feel to this week's podcast as we unpack the eagerly awaited coalition agreement, wrap up the Abba penalty kicks saga and find out how a neglected pet chicken led police to a drug dealer's treasure trove. We also have news of some green eggs and a ham-fisted attempt to break out of jail. Top story Police find body of missing woman Anne Faber News Campaigners win referendum on online snooping law Helicopter prison break plan foiled Carbon neutral eggs laid in Limburg Sport Arjen Robben retires as Dutch miss out on World Cup Hoek emerge victorious in ABBA penalty saga Discussion: new coalition government deal Trust in the future: the main points in the coalition agreement Just who is the 'ordinary, normal' Dutchman? All you need to know about the coalition agreement (NOS, Dutch) Full text on the Dutch government's website rijksoverheid.nl  More >

A reader's letter to Eberhard van der Laan

Dear Mr Mayor, I am so grateful for what you did for me and my son Amsterdammer Somaye Dehban remembers Amsterdam's mayor Eberhard van der Laan and the impact he has had on her life and family. I am an Amsterdammer who was truly affected by the news of your illness like many others, even the ones who have met you for a brief moment. I am writing you this letter because I want you to know how grateful and appreciative I am for what you have done for me and my family - specifically my younger son. You probably don't remember shaking the little hand of my younger son (about 1.5 year old at the time) while he was in my arms. You, Mr Mayor, pronounced us both Dutch nationals in 2015. I couldn’t hold back my tears when you called up our names and when I testified on our behalf that we would be loyal citizens to the Netherlands: I cannot hold back my tears while writing you this letter either. You have had many of these ceremonies during your career as Amsterdam’s mayor so this handshake will have been like many others you have had. Yet our backstory...  More >

'You can’t bike on the roads in Italy'

Sofia and Elena are 11 years old, of British and Italian extraction, and have lived in the Netherlands for three years. Sofia is partial to the Dutch way of adding whipped cream to everything, while Elena thinks Dutch children are much more independent. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Sofia - We ended up here because of my mum’s job. She teaches Year 5 at the [British] school. Before that we were living in Italy. Elena - In Italy we also went to a British school and my mum taught there as well. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? Sofia - I would describe myself as European because I’m half British and half Italian and I’m living in Holland. Elena - I’m going to copy my sister’s answer. How long do you plan to stay and why? Elena - We’ve been here for four years and we think we might stay for another three years. We’re going to decide as a family if we’re going to stay here or if we’re going to move back to Italy. Do...  More >

New cabinet should be 50% female

The new Dutch ministerial line-up should aim for 50% women   The coalition talks are nearing completion after a record-breaking period of negotiation. It is also about time the Netherlands had a cabinet made up of an equal number of men and women, says Marije Cornelissen, the director of UN Women Netherlands. Two years ago Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau presented his new government to the press. Asked by a journalist why half of his cabinet was made up of women Trudeau paused a few seconds and said: ‘Because it’s 2015’. A few months later Emmanuel Macron achieved gender parity when he appointed 11 women to the posts of minister or junior minister. We hope Mark Rutte will follow suit. UN Women has issued a petition as a way of calling on the negotiators to make sure Mark Rutte will be posing for the traditional photograph on the steps of Paleis Huis Ten Bosch flanked by as many women as men. Why? Because it’s 2017. Languishing In 1917 parliament granted Dutch women the right to stand for election. You would...  More >

Podcast: The Deplorable Grenade Edition

In this week's podcast we ask why the defence minister quit in the government's final days, why Anne Frank is the subject of a cold case inquiry and why Amsterdam is taking drastic measures to stop the rampant spread of tourist shops. There's also a rare sporting victory to celebrate and the latest in the long-running ABBA penalties saga. In our discussion we explain why iodine tablets are being distributed to thousands of households with children. Top story Defence minister Jeanine Hennis quits over report into fatal grenade accident News Amsterdam mayor Van der Laan dies Bad weather causes traffic and flight chaos Senate rejects bill to extend qualifying period for new Dutch citizens Cold case team aims to crack mystery of who betrayed Anne Frank (click here to visit the cold case review site) Dutch troops leave Sint-Maarten Successful skin cancer treatment no longer being made Amsterdam imposes ban to curb spread of tourist shops Sport Max...  More >

Child servants at the Dutch court

Child slaves, renamed Cupido and Sideron, ended up in the Dutch court as boys and spent the rest of their lives serving the royal family. Gordon Darroch visited a fascinating new exhibition about their lives in The Hague. You can see them in a painting from 1781 by Hendrik Pothoven, titled 'the Buitenhof during The Hague circus': two tiny, finely drawn figures that stand out among the entourage of Stadhouder Willem V for their striking outfits and prominent turbans, but above all for being the only black faces in the crowd. These were the servants, Cupido and Sideron, who arrived at the stadhouder's court as children in the 1760s and whose fates were bound up with the turmoil that engulfed the House of Oranje-Nassau following the French Revolution. Their story is the basis of a fascinating exhibition at The Hague's Historical Museum that trains the spotlight on a point where the elegant traditions of courtly life cross with the murkier aspects of colonial history. Cupido and...  More >

Places where every day is Dierendag

Today it is ‘animal day’ – but in some places, every day is Dierendag On the the feast day of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, the world celebrates World Animal Day - Dierendag. Around the country, on October 4th, business will host special events, children bring their pets to school and more. But, as Molly Quell reports, in some places, every day is animal day. The Dutch have nearly as many pets as bikes, almost two for every man, woman and child. According to Dibevo, the Dutch organisation for animal-related companies, there are 33.4 million pets living in 7.6 million Dutch households. Fish are by far the most popular pet - with 18 million, there are actually more fish in aquariums than people. Birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, reptiles and rodents make up the rest of the list . It isn’t just families trying to teach tweens lessons in responsibility by walking the dog or feeding the fish. Business owners also like to have friendly face hanging around their establishment. 'Who doesn’t love a little puppy?' asks Frontaal Brewery owner...  More >

What does Brexit mean for expat finances?

Brexit is set to have more of an impact on expats than many people realise. Residency rules might be changing, but the financial fall-out is already being felt. International workers need to act now to make sure their finances are properly protected in a post-Brexit world. There is much uncertainty surrounding the eventual outcome of Brexit but whatever happens, investments in Britain - whether savings, pensions or property - will all be affected by the changes set to come into effect by 2019. 'Brexit is not going to land on your head out of nowhere. Everyone is watching,' says Paul Brown, director of expat financial management company Blacktower. 'Now is the time to act. You have got to hedge your bets.' So what should expats be doing to reduce potential risk exposure and to take advantage of opportunities which may no longer be available once the outcome of Brexit has been determined? Expats, says Brown, should start planning and considering their options now rather than...  More >

Blog watching: cycling with a disability

Hilary Staples was born in the UK but moved to the Netherlands with her tricycle when she was young. She writes about cycling in the Netherlands along with her husband on Holland Cycling. Here's their entry about making the most of bikes when you have a disability. Do you have a disability or other health problems? Cycling might still be possible with the right type of bike. Thanks to innovative technology, more bikes are coming on the market for cyclists who can't ride a regular bike. What options are there and where in Holland can you rent them? Types of bike Do you have a disability or other health problems? This does not necessarily mean you can't enjoy going out for a cycle ride. With the right type of bike that suits your needs, more might be possible than you think. Thanks to innovative technology more suitable bikes are coming on the market - heavy, clumsy invalid bikes are luckily a thing of the past! Here are some options that are available in Holland. Standard...  More >

12 great things to do in October

October is the time for Halloween pumpkins, Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven and the school half-term holidays. Hanneke Sanou has some suggestions of things to do. Get to know Couperus – surtitled in English For the third consecutive season, Ivo van Hove presents an adaptation of a novel by Louis Couperus (1863 – 1923). The Small Souls (De Boeken der Kleine Zielen), the story of a once prosperous The Hague family in decline, will premiere on October 8 in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. For tickets and other performance dates go to the website. Look up at Haring at the Stedelijk The Stedelijk Museum of modern art, also in the capital, welcomes back Keith Haring's 12 by 20 metre sun screen. Sprayed onto cloth some thirty years ago by the artist in a day long performance in situ, Haring's cartoony creatures needed restoring. Haring's 'velum' will be back shielding the museum's former entrance staircase from October 12. Website Raise an eyebrow with 007 On October 13...  More >

Podcast: The Cannibal Car Park Edition

The podcast team report on a scrap for the finance minister's job, a narrow escape when a car park couldn't stand the heat and a penalty shoot-out that's being decided in the courtroom. We also find out why the defence minister is coming under pressure over a military accident in Mali, and why prosecutors are investigating a doctor in a euthanasia case. In our discussion we examine the benefits and challenges of the Dutch health insurance system. Top story Coalition parties scrap for finance minister's job Defence minister under fire over critical report on Mali mission News Doctor reported to prosecution service over euthanasia case September confirmed as wettest for 16 years Amsterdam gets tough on illegal street cafes Eindhoven Airport's car park brought down by design flaw 'Substantial' gas field found in Waddenzee Efteling music used to drive teenagers away from Amsterdam central station Sport Feyenoord struggling to stay in Champions...  More >